This is the second in a three-part series about the guidelines for prayer and fasting. These are modified from Rick Shepherd's, Seeking God. You can find the first post here.
THE PRACTICE OF FASTING
There are several types of "fasts" that we can practice. Often times the intensity of the need will determine exactly what type of fasts. Here are some answers to basic questions about the practice of fasting:
What kind of fast?
There is 1) a limited fast - a person limits their diet for a time as a part of seeking to do the will of God. We see this in Daniel 1:8-13 where Daniel and his three friends asked for a limited diet in order to follow God's law and will.
There is 2) a standard fast - a person eats no food but does drink liquids. This is the most common fast found in Scripture and probably today.
There is 3) an absolute fast - a person does not eat or drink for a period of time. Usually this is for one to three days but there are examples of this type of fast lasting as long as 40 days as with Moses.
Who should fast?
A fast can be by one person - a personal fast. It can be a partner fast in which two or more enter together. For example, my wife and I are fasting together once a week on the behalf of our work in S. Asia. There is also such a thing as a community fast, where an entire small-group or congregation would fast together on behalf of a city or people group.
When should a person or a group fast?
The Scriptures command one regular fast for those in the Old Covenant. In the New Testament there are no regular fasts commanded. If you have been told otherwise, it is due to man-made regulations that developed out of man-centered pride. So all other fasts are considered occasional fasts according to the need of the moment. Personally, I encourage a regular fast as it is a good way of continually recognizing ones need for God.